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Our future President apparently has a new project in mind for his administration - An Energy Apollo Project!

Joe Klein has a new story posted to Time Magazine's website, in which he details a long conversation he had with Barack earlier this week. Among other subjects, they discussed the problems with the current economic fiasco, and Barack's plan to assist the economic recovery with a much greater emphasis on changing our energy:

He wants to launch an "Apollo project" to build a new alternative-energy economy. His rationale for doing so includes some hard truths about the current economic mess: "The engine of economic growth for the past 20 years is not going to be there for the next 20. That was consumer spending. Basically, we turbocharged this economy based on cheap credit." But the days of easy credit are over, Obama said, "because there is too much deleveraging taking place, too much debt." A new economic turbocharger is going to have to be found, and "there is no better potential driver that pervades all aspects of our economy than a new energy economy ... That's going to be my No. 1 priority when I get into office."

Personally, I take great comfort in knowing that this is more than just campaign rhetoric. Having witnessed the oil crisis of the 70's, only to be amazed at the fact that we had done so little by this year's "oil disaster," I am heartened by Barack's plan.

I suspect that, with oil plunging back down to $70+ per barrel, the environment for passage of a plan like this will be more challenging. I know that Americans tend to have a short memory, and may resist the major changes to our lifestles that will be required.

But, maybe - just maybe - there is some HOPE?

Originally posted to ATLSandlapper on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 06:43 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for a REAL Energy Plan? (9+ / 0-)

    McCain/Palin - Same shit, different day.

    by ATLSandlapper on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 06:44:12 PM PDT

  •  I don't care for this frame. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I wish we would stop comparing the energy alternative needs to the Apollo Project since we've ALREADY spent WWWWAY more time and money on developing alternative energy already than was EVER spent on the Apollo project, plus it's not really comparable because of the need to BUILD AN ENTIRE ECONOMY AROUND IT. The scale needs to be wWWWAY bigger.

    •  Sorry, but I disagree. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, G2geek, subtropolis, Druid800
      I think the Apollo connection is the best way to sell the idea to John Q. Public.

      With any luck, we will have the chance to see if I'm right!

      McCain/Palin - Same shit, different day.

      by ATLSandlapper on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 06:52:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're Right In Terms of Scale (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Apollo was sort of a whole nation putting one guy on the moon; what we need now is for one or a few people to put a whole nation on the moon.

      But as others say, in terms of framing it's a great image.

      The sole transformational national projects within living memory were the programs of The New Deal and its offshoots through the Great Society, all liberal, all completely trashed for marketing purposes.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:30:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh and Since People THINK Apollo Spent a Huge (0+ / 0-)

        chunk of the national budget, the meme actually works in our favor for marketing an Apollo Energy project where a lot bigger commitment is needed.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:36:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess I don't know what "huge" is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          NASA's budget at the height of Apollo (actually, during the R&D times, prior to Apollo 11) was 6% of the Federal budget.  That is pretty big for a science related effort.  Now, NASA's budget is about 1% & DOE's entire R&D budget is less than 1/3 %

      •  the problem I have with it (0+ / 0-)

        is that people think we haven't actually DONE this yet, but we HAVE. And others actually DO remember that we've actually tried before. We have taken this on before, and we've failed.  A NUMBER of times. It's just not going to take a bunch of people in a room. And I don't agree that it was a whole nation putting one guy on the moon. It was a bunch of guys putting one guy on the moon.

        This needs to be ALL of us putting ALL of us on the moon. It will take public development. it will take private development.  It will take MASSIVE public education. It will require a HUGE public/private partnership, not to mention massive bipartisanship.  It will take hugely inspirational leadership. (Hi, Barack?)

        The Apollo Project just does not begin to encompass what needs to happen, as a frame.

        •  and, we have no choice. (0+ / 0-)

          Peak oil is with us, and the climate crisis is about to turn into a catastrophe.  We have no choice.  We have got to do this.  

          This is a Darwinian turning point: either we evolve, or we may very well wreck the planet and go extinct.  

          Compared to that, the financial price tag is a bargain.  

    •  World War Two (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, subtropolis

      In World War 2, FDR had to reorganize the entire US economy.  The world's largest factory was built to mass-produce B-24 Liberators, cargo ships were mass-produced for the first time in history by Henry Kaiser, and even converted to aircraft carriers, M-1 carbines were built by the National Cash Register company and the Rock-Ola jukebox company, etc.  America's vast supply of engineers and machinists could turn any factory into any other kind of factory.  Our specialty was not the most advanced tech, or the easiest to build, but reliable tech churned out in gigantic well-run factories.  (The P-51 Mustang's wings are not as ideal as a Spitfire, but it was brought from drawings to first flight in about 100 days, and its cost went down to $50,000 per unit.)

      However, when I look at the American business class today I see a bunch a lot more like old Germany's.  In both World Wars, Germany's fatcats viewed war as an entitlement, and refused to make real sacrifices for efficiency or speed.  Obsolete weapons made by labor-intensive means were kept in production, far too many competing companies existed, and finally extreme methods were forced on them all by imminent defeat.

      We don't need a single-point breakthrough in new technology, but broad-front construction projects.
      At, chronicling the oncoming energy crisis since 2004, Alan Drake has detailed a plan to reduce fossil fuel consumption by electrifying the US railroad network in stages.  Surprisingly little of US rail is electric, especially compared to Europe and Japan.  Freight trains are coming back, as The Oil Drum has long predicted, but they're diesels being run as a cost-cutting measure because the trucks are too expensive.

      This will be labor-intensive, but we are about to have a lot of unemployed people, especially from the construction industry.

      Mr. Drake has also pointed out that every small city in the US used to have streetcars, and many were built very quickly - as they still are in France.  This is something we can do.

      More controversially, there is talk at The Oil Drum about building wind turbine networks in the Midwest, whose uneven production of electricity is smoothed out by using some of it in a Haber-Bosch process to manufacture ammonia, which can be used both in fertilizer (the world has been in a horrible fertilizer crisis this year) and in vehicle engines, though there are issues there.

      I think there is no lack of other projects along these lines.  We've built everything around capital-intensive nonrenewable energy, and now both capital and energy have collapsed.  Now we desperately need labor-intensive energy.

  •  No matter the framming (0+ / 0-)

    It's a great idea.

  •  Just this past week (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, subtropolis

    the Apollo Alliance joined with such groups as U.S. PIRG, NRDC, Smart Growth America, the National Housing Conference and numerous other national, regional and state organizations to form a coalition called Transportation for America.  The coalition is seeking to align our national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development.

    I like using the term "Apollo Project."  If we can send a man to the moon, we can become energy independent.

    To say my country right or wrong is something no patriot would utter; it is like saying my mother drunk or sober. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by commonweal on Wed Oct 22, 2008 at 07:04:05 PM PDT

  •  I'm sure others (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have been pushing this too, bu Cong Ron Kind (D-WI) has been pushing on this for at least two years. He gave a nice talk (with a pretty poster) at UW-La Crosse a couple of years back.

    We have many of the pieces that we need to do this - The Federal Gov't. just needs to make it a priority.

    Also, the Feds don't spend a lot of money on alternative energy (relative). The FY08 DOE budget request was around $24B - at least 1/2 of that is on stuff like nukular weapons programs and public health stuff.  Only about $4B-5 goes to DOE Research and Development.

    In comparison, we spend $17B+ ($20B proposed for 09) on NASA ($12B on the CEV alone), somewhere around $20 Billion on DOD Space budget, nearly $75B on DOD weapons research and development.

    When Kennedy set the Moon as a goal in 1961, NASA's budget doubled in 62, doubled again in 63 and then increased by another 50% in 64.  That was a MAJOR investment.

    In contrast, Bush's "competitiveness" agenda seeks to double all physical science basic research by 2010.

    If we assumed that we spend around $5B now on alternative energy research (probably much less) an Apollo program would be --

    2008 $5b
    2009 $10b
    2010 $20b
    2011 $30b
    2012-2019 ($180B -- $30B per year)

    That's about $190B more (over 10 yrs) than we spend now.  I have heard Obama talk about $150B over 10, so it is in the ballpark of an Apollo style program.

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